Autistic Child Charged With Terrorism Over School Drawing

Shane Finn, 14, is an autistic eighth grader with the mental capacity of a third grader. He did something not unknown to kids around the world. He drew a stick figure of himself shooting his teacher. He is now an accused terrorist in Georgia.

The childish drawing included the helpful labels “me” for the figure pointing the gun at the other figure, labeled “Hartman.” Hartman was not amused and, despite the fact that Finn has only 75 IQ, Finn was charged with a terrorism felony.

We seem to have become a society where any infraction must be expressed in criminal terms, even when committed by a child (here). Even sketching a gun can get you suspended, here. Once again, the question remains the judgment and professional responsibility of the prosecutors in advancing these charges. If a 14-year-old autistic boy is now considered a terrorist for a drawing, we have lost this fight.

For the full story, click here.

47 thoughts on “Autistic Child Charged With Terrorism Over School Drawing”

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  2. All I have to say is that ever since I can remember little boys have been drawing pictures like this from kinder right through to ten and 11 year olds. None of those boys were ever violent and even in the case of my two younger brothers (of whom are now adults and never been in trouble with the law, let alone for violence) some very loving young boys like to draw pics of guns, people shooting and airoplanes dropping bombs. Maybe I am no expert and someone can tell me I am wrong but have always assumed it was a natural part of boys being boys to draw this sort of thing…autistic or not. Sometimes I think things such as children drawing pictures like this have been taken all too far.

  3. I am autistic. I earned the Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago partly through writing and defending a dissertation, “Mental Health and Mental Illness: Cause, Purpose, Cure, and Prevention; A Bioengineering Perspective,” 1998.

    When I first heard of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, it occurred to that it might be wise to first look for intelligence on planet earth because it is close at hand. If it is impossible to find even a trace of a hint of intelligence here on planet earth, how in the universe of universes would we ever have a clue about what to look for that is extraterrestrial?

    Methinks I am not nearly stupid enough to harbor the notion that I am in any way “intelligent,” for I find that I have no “responsibilities.” What I have instead is “response abilities,” and I learn what my abilities to respond to events are as I respond, and never know what my response abilities will be in a new, unfamiliar, situation until after I have responded to the actual situation. Since almost everyone else seems to me to claim that they can know their responsibilities in advance of encountering a situation through which their response abilities are made manifest, I am evidently nearly perfectly stupid as compared and contrasted with very nearly everyone else?

    Only… I have terrible difficulties with interpersonal communication, what I intend to share in terms of meaning(s) with other people is, almost without exception, catastrophically misunderstood, in my personal experience.

    So… An autistic child is working at learning to communicate in pictures? (Please read, or re-read, Dr. Temple Grandin, “Thinking in Pictures” or Oliver Sacks, “An Anthropologist on Mars”). What is the proper social response to this autistic child’s attempt to communicate a valid concern? Silence the child.

    What is the main lesson I find society attempts to teach young children at about age 18 months? “Don’t do what I tell you to do, or else; and if you disobey me, I will make you suffer until you do as you are told.”

    I find that the “infant-child transition” or “infant-child discontinuity” is of the social mandate that truthful infants become dishonest and deceptive according to societal norms.

    Infancy is a time before a person has learned enough words to be capable of internalizing dishonesty and deception. Childhood is a time during which a person collects the mandatory repertoire of deceptions (aka psychological defenses). Adolescence is a time during which a person perfects the ability to be dishonest in accord with the person’s culture. Adulthood is a time during which a person can coercive the infants of the next generation, through terror (as in “the terrible twos) into replicating the dishonesty of the adult generation, and the vicious cycle continues, for thousands? of generations?

    However, as both of my parents accurately observed, I never went through the infant-child transition, never went through the terrible twos. At an age of more than seventy-one years, I have never gone through that transition, and I function internally as I did when I was the traditional biological age of infancy. I never, in the traditional sense, became other than an infant; I never transitioned from infancy to childhood, and therefore could never transition from childhood to adolescence or from adolescence to adulthood, as those constructs are traditionally understood.

    I find that I live as a “little child” and have always done so, for more than seventy-one years. And I am not deceptive in stating this.

    As a matter of fact (everyone has a right to his/her own opinions, but no one has a private right to any fact), there is now at least one person who has managed to live for over seventy one years without ever learning the ways of effective lying. (Please read Robert Feldman, “The Liar in Your Life,” Twelve, 2009, especially page 258 and then page 73…)

    I am NOT anonymous…

    May the Big Bang have mercy!!!

    J. Brian Harris, Ph.D., P.E.
    Wisconsin Registered Professional Engineer No. 34106-6

  4. You know, I got in trouble in school for drawing stick figure violence too. And this was before the “let’s label kids instead of trying to figure them out” craze that started in the 1980s.

    And to the mom, your kid not knowing right from wrong is not Autism’s fault, it’s YOURS.

  5. I think this is screwed up. Clearly Shane was frustrated, perhaps the teacher was being nasty or abusive toward him,
    and b/c he doesn’t know how else to express himself, he chose to let out his anger in a drawing. And HE gets in trouble for it? That’s sick. Something like that happened at a place I used to work at. An autistic co-worker was humiliated and verbally attacked by our boss, and he went home,wrote how he felt on myspace and got fired for it. Since then my friend, whom we’ll call Craig, has since then attempted to take his life. And this is all because the school and work systems in America have no tolerance for people with disabilities. New laws need to be passed to protect people like Craig and Shane. The sad part is, is that Shane and Craig arent the first people this has happened to either.

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